Death Star Trench Matte Painting by Ralph McQuarrie
This matte painting used in multiple scenes for Star Wars A New Hope. This matte painting was done by Ralph McQuarrie. Ralph created a large painting of the Death Star surface and trench, and in the center of the painting is a small photograph of the physical trench model which he also highlighted. This matte painting was used as the Rebels approach the Death Star on their trench runs. The camera zooms in showing the trench and the Death Star surface. When the camera gets close in, a blaster bolt lightens the frame and then it cuts to the actual 3D model for the trench run. One of the most classic scenes in the Death Star battle was the result of Ralph McQuarrie’s brilliant work.

In the recent book, Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie, Dennis Muren is quoted from an old interview as saying, “The first half of the shot was a painting by Ralph, and the second half was the physical trench model. Richard Edlund shot the model and I shot the painting. When we moved on into the painting and it reached a certain point, what you actually saw was a photograph of the first frame of Richard’s shot, the second part of the shot. We made a blow-up of it about seven inches square, placed that on a piece of Masonite, and the artist extended that with a painting. That was the end point of the first part of the shot. The two were blended together by lining up relative moves. Richard shot his part of the shot first, so I had to match mine to look as though it was moving in the same direction as his. When a cut was made from one shot to the other, all the actions would flow. It was very difficult to shoot. A laser flash was inserted which blended the two cuts together. If you look at the shot closely, you might be able to see what happened. I was really pleased with that one.”

Description by: Gus Lopez
Photo: Gus Lopez
From the collection of: Gus Lopez
Country:United States
Film:A New Hope
Licensee:Lucasfilm, Ltd.
Category:Movie Production Pieces / Miscellaneous


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